Chicago-based blogger, Melanie Coy covers many themes on her lifestyle blog, With Love, Melanie: Style, fashion, travel, beauty and…infertility. After all, this has been a significant part of Melanie’s life and lifestyle in the three years, or so, that she and her husband started trying to have a baby.
She’s determined to speak publicly about her experience, despite the fact that she’s faced some judgment for it. For her, being open about the experience is helping her feel less alone as she navigates infertility.
What’s your fertility/infertility story?
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. Once I married my husband Trent, we made jokes about running to our room after our “I do’s” to start trying. That was in 2015. I was 35 at the time. Fast-forward about 6 months. I had tried all but me standing on my head (I thought about it). The ovulations kits, thermometers, and timed sex seemed to be a romance killer. Little did I know sex would soon be off the table for months at a time. Sigh. I couldn’t take looking at one more negative pregnancy test. It was a feeling of confusion, shame and sadness. I needed to know what the heck was going on. This is when we decided to go see a reproductive endocrinologist. Between my age and being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s (an auto-immune disease caused by an inflammation of the thyroid gland), we thought it was the best next step.
Walking into that waiting room was nerve-wracking. But, at least we could get some answers. Or, so I thought. After that appointment, I went through a series of tests. Here is what we found out: I have a blocked tube, low Vitamin D, thyroid issues (which I already knew), and low AMH. It was recommended for us to try IUI’s, and then if that was unsuccessful, move on to IVF. After 3 no-go’s on the IUI’s, we moved on to IVF.
There were a series of firsts for me that included shots, pills, potions and the great unknown. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? We had so much optimism and thought this will surely work out.There were a series of firsts for me that included shots, pills, potions and the great unknown. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? We had so much optimism and thought this will surely work out. We were even realistic about it and thought, ok, maybe not the first time. But, it has to by the 2nd time, right? I was wrong.
As of today, we have been through 3 IVF cycles, with one fresh embryo transfer and 4 frozen embryo transfers. We had one negative pregnancy test and then 4 consecutive positives. These positives all turned to negatives at 5.5 weeks. It has been heartbreak after heartbreak.
The first time we were pregnant, we were over the moon. It had worked!!! The 2nd try, just like I thought (it worked). And then the unthinkable happened. The 2nd beta showed my HCG was dropping and there went my future. That baby I imagined holding in 9 short months was just that – all in my imagination. I don’t even know how to describe that pain. I’ll just say that all of that love you have for your unborn child is still there, and you feel like you may explode because there is nowhere for it to go. Yet, you feel completely empty at the same time. Each and every loss has happened the exact same way, and I have come to expect it. Yet, I keep trying. But this upcoming transfer, I believe it will be a different outcome. I have to.
We are about to transfer one genetically screened (PGS tested) and “perfect” embryo this Tuesday. Over the last year, I have been relentlessly searching for answers on what could be causing miscarriage after miscarriage. I learned that I may have antibodies and natural killer cells affecting my blood flow and so I may not have the overall environment for the embryo to thrive. My hypothesis has been proven right. We are now seeing a reproductive immunologist, and I am on a host of additional medications to suppress my immune system to help our little embryo that could. After 2 ½ years of trying, I pray that this will be our miracle.
Why did you decide to start blogging about your experience with infertility and what’s been your experience with it?
Sharing this story has been extremely hard. I have faced condemnation, judgment, and overall adversity. Yet, I would do it over a hundred times.
In sharing my story, I have had countless women reach out who are going through infertility or miscarriage, and they have shared their stories. This is for them – for every woman who feels like screaming but can’t. It’s for the people who feel a sense of shame because they think it’s only happening to them. Or, the women who have experienced a loss so powerful it’s debilitating. I do this blog for all of us. This is a “secret society” of women who are stronger than they will ever know. And in a way, this has helped me not feel so alone, either. I don’t think people realize how prevalent infertility and miscarriage is. I felt that I needed to elevate that conversation and make this topic something we aren’t embarrassed to talk about.
Your husband sometimes contributes to your posts about infertility. How has the experience affected your relationship?
There have definitely been some really hard moments. We have both wanted to give up at times and luckily never at the same time. But, after everything we have been through, I feel like it has ultimately built a trust and intimacy that we wouldn’t have known otherwise. Letting someone stick you with needles is like that trust fall you did at your last team building event. Only not. Ha ha!
I do think at times it is hard on Trent to go through all of this when he already has two children from a previous marriage. He was 100% for having another baby, but I don’t think either of us imagined we would be here, on our 6th embryo transfer, 3 years after getting married.
Infertility is a disease and it is not something that can be solved with a hot bath and some wine. Now, is it important to treat your body well? Yes, absolutely. But, relaxing won’t get me pregnant.And I must say, because I feel like no one ever does, it’s really hard on our sex life (*blushing*), but it’s true. That takes a backseat when you’re being pumped full of hormones and enduring procedure after procedure.
Trent has also been amazing in the scientific sense of all of this. Because he has a medical background, he has also been able to understand in depth what all of this means. He’s my advocate, too, which means the world to me.
For all of the couples struggling, we know that it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. We have had our fair share of fights, unkind words and moments of hormone-induced rage. But, at the end of the day, we are best friends – Team Coy. I will never give up on the future we wish to create.
What do you think are some misconceptions people have about infertility or pregnancy loss?
I think there are a lot of misconceptions. There are a few that I can think of off the top of my head. First, that it’s usually because of the woman. Not true at all. Male infertility is extremely common. Second, the whole idea, “Just relax and it’ll happen.”
Infertility is a disease and it is not something that can be solved with a hot bath and some wine. Now, is it important to treat your body well? Yes, absolutely. But, relaxing won’t get me pregnant. Also (and this isn’t necessarily a misconception, but it drives me crazy) how just because you had a friend, who had a friend who got pregnant on her first IVF try, that doesn’t mean I will. Everyone’s journey is very different. The last misconception, and this is a hard one: age does affect infertility.
When it comes to miscarriage, I don’t think people realize how common it is. As many as 50% of first pregnancies end in miscarriage. However, just because it happens more than we think, it should not be taken lightly. It is one of the hardest losses one can endure. There seems to be a lack of sensitivity in our culture to this loss.
How do you stay hopeful through disappointments and losses?
This has been an evolution of finding peace while enduring lots of pain. Being my own advocate and learning as much as I can has helped me keep my head above water. I have had days where I cry and cry and then I pull up my big girl panties and ask myself, “How is this going to help me reach my goal of being a mother”? That’s when I pour my heart into researching and taking the steps I have control of, but also doing things that bring me joy. I do yoga, ballet, I see friends (some of whom are going through this, too), I travel when I can, and I focus on the blog. It has all made me feel somewhat “whole,” even though there is a big hole in my heart. It has also motivated me to be very intentional about choosing joy and being grateful for what I have. I believe in my heart and soul that I will be a mom and life will change forever. Until then, I will do what makes me happy. Life is truly not about where we end up, but how we get there. It is messy, beautiful and chaotic. But with all of that, I have found how to wade through the bullshit and truly find a sense of peace.
Anything else you want to add?
Don’t give up. Fight your way through this. Turn over every stone and get to the bottom of what is going on. There are many ways to get to the same end result. So, find your way.
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